PeopleSoft adds JDE integration as Oracle saga drags on

PeopleSoft will release a new version of its EnterpriseOne application for manufacturing in December, leaving some customers with no choice but to upgrade.

PeopleSoft won't release until December the latest version of EnterpriseOne, featuring integration between CRM and the back office, but enterprises like FW Murphy Group are already implementing it.

Not that the Tulsa, Okla., manufacturer of industrial instruments and controls had much choice.

FW Murphy faced a dilemma many JD Edwards & Co. customers ran into when PeopleSoft acquired JDE last year. PeopleSoft announced it was ending support for JDE's Xe system in February 2005, leaving customers like FW Murphy, which ran its business on Xe, in a bind.

"We have to make a change, so the question is what do we change to?" said Mitch Myers, vice president of operations. "It's either [version] 8.9, 8.10 or 8.11. With the enhancements in 8.11 and because it's the latest release, we decided to go this route."

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Despite a potential takeover of PeopleSoft by rival Oracle, FW Murphy does not have the luxury of waiting to see how the ongoing saga turns out.

The enhancements in EnterpriseOne 8.11 represent the last significant transfer of functionality between PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications, said Joel Reed, vice president of marketing for EnterpriseOne.

The enhancements focus primarily on manufacturing, life sciences, consumer products, and construction and home building, including demand-driven manufacturing tools and an RFID processor. CRM enhancements include the embedding of customer-facing processes with back office operations. Bringing the supply chain into customer management tools offers some real benefit to customers, said Laura Preslan, research director of AMR Research Inc. in Boston.

Manufacturing and distribution companies receive the biggest benefit from CRM tools designed specifically for their industry, and those companies should take a close look at 8.11 when it's launched, Preslan said.

FW Murphy's Myers said the embedded CRM functionality was one of the factors that convinced him to go with 8.11. He said customers in the past would have had to manage the integration between CRM and the back office. Now it comes out of the box, Myers said. Additionally, the enhanced integration with supply chain planning projects, both real time and in batch, and the demand-driven manufacturing tools helped make the decision, he said.

A more pressing question may be whether there will even be a PeopleSoft in December. Hurdles remain for Oracle, but the biggest, the Department of Justice antitrust trial, has been cleared. The Redwood Shores, Calif., company has said throughout that it will not continue to develop the PeopleSoft product line.

AMR is counseling PeopleSoft customers to continue with their plans for purchases and upgrades in the wake of the firing of former CEO Craig Conway and PeopleSoft's rosy preliminary earnings for the past quarter. However, those depending on significant functionality should exercise caution, according to Jim Sheperd, AMR's vice president of research.

FW Murphy has decided to move forward, beta testing the latest EnterpriseOne version and focusing on the present.

"Right now, I'm not trying to plan for what we're going to do in '06 and beyond in regard to ERP," said Myers. "With the situation as unstable as it is, we're gonna have to sit back. The main thing we can do is put ourselves in a good position in the near term."

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